Vietnam tourism industry gearing up for growth

09:21 | 27/04/2015 Society

Vietnam’s tourism and hospitality sector will create 250,000 job opportunities over the next five years and an all-out effort is being made to prepare young people to staff them, the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) recently revealed.

Vietnam tourism industry gearing up for growth

A representative from VNAT said it has conducted studies and assessments to determine the specific needs in the sector throughout the nation, and is working in coordination with other ministries and the private sector to boost employment levels in the tourism field.

Demand over the next five years for jobs in the sector will reach into the tens of thousands and the overriding strategy in the coming period is to match jobs and workers with the right skill sets, the representative said.

Generally, in the tourism sector, English is considered to be the most important medium of communication. But tourists from non English speaking countries will feel more at home in Vietnam if they can communicate in their mother tongue.

This will help them gain confidence in travelling in the country and increase their sense of security as well.  Currently the country has roughly 6,700 tour guides. Only half of them can communicate in English, while 1,000 can speak French, 961 Chinese, and 375 German.

Using Japanese as a specific example, there are only 431 tour guides that have any proficiency level in the language while the tourism sector is expected to attract more than one million Japanese tourists in this year alone.

This means that the number of tour guides who can speak fluent Japanese should be increased by a couple thousand immediately to serve as a cross cultural interface between tourism and hospitality enterprises and Japanese visitors

Thus apart from English, there is a current need for tens of thousands of staff having knowledge of other foreign languages and that number will increase exponentially during the next five years.

Proficiency in foreign language skills are invaluable and indispensible in the tourism and hospitality industry where one’s ability to effectively communicate is of paramount importance, the VNAT representative stressed.

The representative added that the hospitality sector suffers from a severe lack of young foreign language speakers and robust effort is underway to develop and deliver training programs that meet the demand of the labour market in line with international norms.

A recent survey conducted by the HCM City Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism showed that 30%-40% of tour guides and 70%-80% of others in the tourism and hospitality industries failed to meet basic minimum foreign language standards.

A human resource manager at the Hilton Hotel in turn said that its hotels throughout the nation suffer from an inadequate supply of young workers with the requisite foreign language and interpersonal skills to interact with its guests.

Trinh Xuan Dung, former principal of the Hanoi Tourism College said the school is undertaking a promising plan to improve young trainees for the tourism industry and impart upon them the practical skills needed for success in it.

Dung suggested that a hands-on work experience model that is utilized in many western countries should be replicated in Vietnam. Following the model second year students in higher education are allowed to gain valuable work experience at restaurants and hotels and use that experience to obtain credits towards their degree.

Unfortunately most graduates from Vietnam’s tourism colleges and universities cannot speak a foreign language fluently and therefore are not adequate to meet the demands of the hospitality industry, Dung stressed.

We need to do better on encouraging young students to join the tourism and hospitality sector in Vietnam and support their professional development for all professions and career paths in the industry, he said.

For his part, Phung Thanh Yen, the human resource director at Movenpick, echoed Dung’s view and added that the graduates of the nation’s domestic universities and colleges are not currently trained in conformity with the international community.

The numbers of graduates are insufficient to meet the industry’s needs and those that have graduated are universally lacking in the foreign language and the interpersonal skills necessary to hold key department head or senior executive level positions, he underscored.

The tourism sector will need an additional 40,000 workers each year over the next five years. However, current projections are that only 15,000 tourism students will graduate from the nation’s institutions of higher education, which presents tremendous opportunity and challenges for the nation./.

Theo VOV